Entertainment industry unhappy standing events not given go-ahead

Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association says they remain the only sector to suffer 'sustained discrimination' as they lament restrictions on standing events despite further relaxation of COVID-19 measures

Standing events remain off limits despite more COVID-19 measures being relaxed
Standing events remain off limits despite more COVID-19 measures being relaxed

The Malta Entertainment Industry and Arts Association (MEIA) has expressed its disappointment that the industry was not given the go-ahead to resume standing events.

"Whereas we applaud the ongoing efforts and success of the health authorities to achieve a high rate of vaccination among the adult population, our sector remains the only industry that is suffering from sustained discrimination," the MEIA said in a statement on Thursday. 

Earlier, Health Minister Chris Fearne announced that from 16 August, the capacity for outdoor seated events would increase from 200 to 300. Then from 30 August, the capacity for outdoor seated events would further increase to 500. All those who attend have to be vaccinated.

However, Fearne said, for the time being, standing events remain off-limits. 

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"Not only is our industry the only industry that requires vaccine certification for both staff and clients for open-air seated events, but we are also the only industry that is being used as the sacrificial lamb of the pandemic," the MEIA said.

The association said that it was concerned that the ongoing restrictions and limitations on the entertainment sector would make it more difficult for audiences to return when full capacity is permitted.

The MEIA said standing events, like seated events, come in various formats, ranging from small corporate events of 50 people to concerts hosting thousands, all of which can operate in different roll-out stages and with protocols that are similar to those of other industries and proven to be successful on an international level.

"The only standing events that seem to be ongoing in Malta are the illegal gatherings that remain uncontrolled, unsupervised, and unrestrained," the association said. 

MEIA called on the government to give financial support to operators who still cannot operate due to ongoing restrictions, set up a compensation scheme for events that had to be cancelled, provide a road map till the end of the year, introduce a seat compensation scheme for theatres and cinemas to address the enforced limitations, review guidelines for a sustainable approach to seating capacity and create a classification for standing events according to the risk factor.